On last Tuesday, September 4, 2012, in Haverhill, Massachusetts, a seemingly innocent pastime took a dangerous turn. Two men were cut and bruised when a remote control helicopter suddenly started on its own and struck the pair with its rotor.
One of the injured was Scott Proposki, of 10 Lavantie Street, owner of Camera in the Sky, a company started in 2008 that uses remote controlled helicopters to take aerial videos and still pictures. Proposki said that after the incident, he was taken to an unspecified Boston hospital where he had surgery to fix tendons in his right hand and arm. Proposki’s co-worker, John Perry, 26, of Manchester, New Hampshire, was the other victim. Perry suffered minor injuries and was taken to Lawrence General Hospital.
According to reports from Proposki, the two were working with the four foot helicopter in his backyard, using it to for taking pictures, when they eventually landed it. But shortly afterwards, the battery-operated device suddenly started on its own, rose about three feet into the air, and hit both Proposki and Perry with its six blades.
After seeing the helicopter initially hit Perry, Proposki grabbed at it with his bare hands, causing five to six gashes and damage to his tendons. Police received a call about the incident at about 12:34pm. Patrolman David Makalian responded to the call along with firefighters.
I was initially pulled in by this story because I had honestly forgotten that remote controlled helicopters even existed. I remember seeing them in movies as a kid and saying “I want that!” but then getting distracted by the next shiny new thing that had me saying “I want that!” And since my love for the remote control helicopter was so short lived, I suppose it makes sense that I never considered the somewhat obvious hazard of rapidly spinning, metal blades … on a toy.
But my curiosity was aroused. So, after a brief search on Google, I learned that these are actually quite powerful machines. On an average sized remote control helicopter, the nut screwed into each blade has to be strong enough to hold 270 pounds of pressure just to keep the blades from flying away. The speed of the tip of each blade can top out at around 250 miles per hour. If just one of the blades was to come off the helicopter, the entire device breaks apart and pieces begin to fly everywhere at high speeds like shrapnel. And though this story was about a helicopter powered by batteries, remote controlled helicopters fueled with gasoline present the added consideration of flammability. Hmm … I think I just talked myself out of buying a remote control helicopter. But, I hope it is never said that I am guilty of being a deterrent to a good time.
One of the qualities I like a lot about this blog is that I get to research different veins of life, learn new things, and share safety tips. In regards to remote control helicopters, proper assembly is key. One loose bolt could destroy the entire helicopter and potentially injure someone else. So take care in that respect. Youtube has a bevy of videos that will show proper safety measures for helicopter assembly and maintenance. And if necessary, YouTube also has some videos that depict what happens when proper safety measures aren’t taken. And as always, we just want you to be safe.
But if you, or someone you may know, experience a similar personal injury situation that leads to questions or concerns that need to be addressed, please feel free to contact Altman and Altman at your earliest convenience.